Jayshree Venkatraman
Jayshree Venkatraman – Principal, SNBP International School Pune

Parenting is one of the most thrilling, exciting, challenging and evolving experience in one’s life. No other relation can match with it, in terms of the mixed emotions that it entails. Witnessing the growth of the child in intellect, in articulation and in the physique can be highly fulfilling. Even within a family the strategy adopted for one child shall definitely vary from the other. In such a situation, professing any technique or style to be the best shall be inappropriate. Let us understand the challenges that a child faces.

THE MAIDEN BATTLE OF LIFE FOR LIFE

A newborn child is subject to severe anxiety during birth. Far from the cozy comfort of a womb, it is now exposed to the blinding light, deafening high decibels and also the most uncomfortable pose. All these experiences are nothing short of a catastrophe for the tiny being.

Huge gigantic beings which are practically unfathomable in their structure hold it, barking sweet nothings and excruciating pain shoots across the body and feeble protest is all that it can make with its faint cry. Even that tires the baby and it sleeps for over 20 hours a day !!!

BATTLING WITH NOT OKness

Slowly, with the eyes getting used to the bright light and ears getting tuned to the outside din, within a matter of 3 months the child starts responding to the adult world.  Constant dependence on the adult world for its basic needs turns on its auto mechanism of wailing aloud to attract attention.   It slowly registers that smiles acknowledge positive feedback and high pitched cry corresponds with negative feedback. The baby’s constant endeavor to be on its feet is best understood, by the effort that it takes, first to turn, then to crawl and sit and finally to stand with support.  A feel of “ NOT OK ness”, afflicts and it turns to an adult for constant acknowledgment of any small accomplishment.  Claps laughs, pats constantly serve as a tool of encouragement.

As parents, how often and how effectively are we able to get our child shed the NOT OKness.

BATTLING FOR UNCONDITIONAL ACCEPTANCE

Parents often come to us exasperated by their child’s behavior and wishing that I counsel the child. It is sometimes a 4-year-old, who is very aggressive, an 8-year-old who is very slow in his response or an 18-year-old, who is unable to keep up to the expected academic standards. Though the issues are seemingly varied, there is a common cause of worry.

The child is not measuring up to parents’ expectations…. To these parents, I ask, have you ever checked what your child expects of you?

BE THE SUPERHERO

In the eyes of the child, you rank right up there, next to God. You have the power to heal, scare away monsters, repair toys and love without limits unconditionally. The child never compares you with anyone. Your salary or job profile is not compared with the friend’s father or mother. Let us not disappoint the child by harshly expressing your conditions, expectations or comparing with peers. The child’s self-esteem gets battered badly, self-worth and confidence dip to its lowest.  Also realize that the insensitive, competitive world is already doing it in good measure. Subconsciously we have sown the seed of hatred, envy and also jealousy.

TIP 1

Parents need to constantly assure the child, of their unconditional love. Let us not connect Failure with the loss of love. Please use more of “ I” messages, eg. I feel hurt when you shout so much OR. I feel very happy when you finish your food.

BATTLING WITH PHYSICAL INADEQUACIES

We, who have been endowed with sound faculties, can never understand what its absence would mean. Lack or inadequacies of faculties can be very distressing. Pursuing an activity despite being unskilled can be highly traumatic and can result in a high degree of NOT OKness

Parents of Rutvik who studied in Class 1 were exasperated. Rutvik looked bored and tired most of the times. He looked absolutely disinterested to come to school. The notes copied by him made no sense. Any questions related to them received a very blank look. Sleeplessness, bedwetting and constant complaints of stomach ache made them feel absolutely helpless. The Parents approached Rutvik’s Class Teacher, Mrs. Sharma and shared their concern. Mrs. Sharma, who was an astute educationist also realized the Rutvik had never shown his notebooks to her and had always found excuses to do that.  She assured them of a change in strategy at her end and asked them to meet her again for feedback after a week. Rutvik was made to sit on the first bench very close to the teacher and she took it upon herself to prompt Rutvik to write. She observed that Rutvik constantly narrowed his eyes while focusing on the Blackboard. She encouraged him to even go close to the Blackboard, in case he was unable to see clearly. On the strong recommendation from Mrs. Sharma, parents took Rutvik to an Ophthalmologist and were shocked to know that Rutvik was highly myopic and had very weak eyesight. Next day witnessed Rutvik smartly walk into the class with specs and a beaming smile welcomed Mrs. Sharma into the class. Rutvik now is one of the most favorite students in the class and loves coming to school.

There may be a Rutvik in our child, waiting to be understood !!!

BE THE CHOSEN SHIELD

As a parent, we need to safe guard our child from such negative thoughts which drains the energy and sucks all the enthusiasm. We need to realize that we are our child’s best friend and guide. No one would understand our child better. No body can understand your child better than YOU!

TIP-2

Spend maximum quality time with your child. Study your child objectively. The physical faculties, the vision, the hearing, the responses, the motor developments, the ability to comprehend, express and correlate. Teachers play a crucial role in your child’s life. Take their feedback. Do not be overly alarmed or do not get defensive with any adverse revelations. Know that it is only YOU, who can make a difference. Do not undermine your potential.  Challenges are only for those who have the strength to face it.

BATTLING WITH PEER PRESSURE

Parents need to be wary of comparisons. Do not ever compare your precious child with anyone, not even with a sibling. A unique identity and a well-crafted destiny await the child. Constant comparison leads to blind emulation and can destroy the spark within.

During one of my Corridor rounds, I observed a child of Sr KG, sobbing uncontrollably. Everyone including the teacher seemed totally oblivious of it, as the whole class was seriously copying some matter from the Black Board. Concerned by the indifference, I entered the class and enquired. The teacher responded that Mansi, the weeping girl was suffering from severe inferiority complex and always aimed at completing her work before her partner. She felt insecure with students who were faster than her. Knowing her weakness, the teacher had always got students who were slower than her sit with her. Incidentally, that particular day, the normally slow child had also overtaken her. While the girl sobbed, tears messed the written matter and the periodic wiping the tears also was further slowing her pace. This added further to her anger with her own self and she cried. The teacher also mentioned that any special attention to Mansi also made her cry more and it was best to leave her alone.

At this, I admired the teacher’s maturity and I also met Mansi’s parents. Mr. and Mrs. Swamy were themselves feeling helpless about their child’s regular outbursts and were trying their best to calm her.

This made me wonder at the stress that a 4-year-old had! Who could have instilled that feeling in that tender mind?

TIP 3

Constantly assure the child, that your love is unconditional and refrain from comparing.

BATTLING FOR SPACE FOR IDENTITY

All of us, want space- freedom to be ourselves, be vocal of our likes, dislikes. In the desire to groom children, parents often work very hard at wanting to tame them like the Circus Ring Master. Unfortunately, parents start thinking it to be their primary responsibility to ensure that their children behave and act in an orchestrated expected manner. They feel their investment in the upbringing in the form of time and money shall yield rich dividends. These expectations spoil the nobility and sanctity of the beautiful relation. It may please be remembered that the child did not demand to be born out of you. It was purely your call. It suited your convenience and image building to send the child to the best school. How fair is it to expect the child to fulfill all your unrealized dreams? Please give the child-

S_P_A_C_ E

A mother of a class 1 student, regularly came to school to copy notes for her son who was absent. She approached me and pleaded privacy as she had a confession to make. She said, her 5-year-old son, Pradip never listened to her and had often said that he hated her. Just a week prior, for a class Maths test, Pradip had scored only 4 out of 10 and had absolutely no remorse. After coming from school on an ill-fated day, he had indifferently thrown his bag and proceeded to play. Angered by such a careless attitude, she placed the hot cooking spoon on his hand for that was the only tool with her, while she cooked. The tender hand of the child was totally charred with burnt injuries. The child was now at home recovering. The damage done was absolutely irreversible. The mark on the child’s hand shall forever remind the mother or her cruel act. The mother as if to justify her act, went on to add, that she was a postgraduate in Biochemistry with a gold medal and despite lucrative career options awaiting her she had chosen to stay at home to give quality time to Pradeep. Her sacrifice was totally disregarded by the child and he never valued her presence. She added that it was this background that made her react so strongly towards the child. Even while she said all that, the justification sounded hollow to her as well….

TIP 4

Be firm on deciding the boundaries and expectations. Involve the child in planning the boundaries and expectations. Respect the Individuality and Freedom.

Parents, do not treat your child as an investment. Even if you do, you already have got sufficient returns in the form of Naming Rights, Right to Cuddle, Right to hold a New Born, getting lovable kisses smeared with chocolate and most importantly someone to laugh yourself silly with, no matter how your professional front was shaping up or how your stocks performed that day. Even the lousiest cook and the dreariest mothers are assured to get the title of the Best Cook and the Most Beautiful Damsel on Earth. By becoming a parent, in many ways you get to be immortal. You get another branch added to the family tree. You get free education in psychology, nursing, justice, communication and negotiation skills that no college can match.

BATTLING FOR A ROLE MODEL

Parents should never advise children about good behavior. It often falls on deaf ears. Children learn best by emulation. Values are never taught, they are caught. Put up your best behavior and know that your child shall follow suit. Do not ever criticize school or teachers in the presence of the child. Your criticism may be for some unfavorable, unacceptable act of the school management or teacher; however, the child is going to generalize it. Subconsciously you have instilled the seed of hatred towards the school and learning stops. Purely in the interest of the child’s education, do not undermine the efficiency of the teacher. They may err at times, but they are there to take your place in your absence and are trying their best to help you. Help them to help you……

TIP 5

Beware of the two pairs of eyes watching you. The pair yearns to seek… to learn. Every act of yours should reflect the learning of values and should inspire.

BE A ROLE MODEL…. That your child wishes to emulate…

Love and celebrate your child’s presence in your life and express your heartfelt gratitude to the Creator to have chosen you to partner with for the DIVINE CREATION !!!

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